041: It’s Kind of a Fun Story

Heeding the warning from the space wizard, our heroes make camp for the night in a nearby cave. They soon discover that the cave is inhabited by a three-headed dragon named PopHaus, who just wants to play a new game called It’s Kind of a Fun Story!

Things mentioned this episode:

  • 02:44 Final Fantasy VII
  • 03:30 Crash Bandicoot
  • 04:06 Dream Phone
  • 05:22 Mouse Trap
  • 09:06 Animal Crossing
  • 15:11 Codenames
  • 15:30 It’s Kind of a Fun Story
  • 20:01 Cards Against Humanity
  • 31:29 Gloomhaven
  • 39:41 Spot It
  • 41:37 Betrayal at House on the Hill
  • 42:34 Secret Hitler
  • 45:49 Skippo
  • 46:46 Dragula
  • 49:01 Final Fantasy XIV
  • 51:39 Big Brother
  • 55:04 Monikers

Robert Smith 0:07
So my name is Robert Smith, I’m one of the cofounders of pop house collective Joe, Josh and I were the three minds kind of behind. It’s kind of a fun story where the three that kind of brought this thing to life, you know, did a lot of elbow grease, a lot of like time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears. And here we are. Now, I would say in terms of like, what we kind of do, I handle a lot of like the marketing to kind of helping get the word out and some of the fun in terms of like design and kind of like some creative ideation within the team.

Joe Boyle 0:34
I’m Joe Boyle. I’m one of the cofounders of pop house collective. Yeah, like Rob said, This is our first game, I handle a lot of the financial operations, logistics, data, parts of the team. A lot of the admin stuff goes to me too.

Josh Kemper 0:50
Yeah, and I’m Josh, I’m the resident nerd of the group. I, kind of our mechanics guy, the more strategy gamer of the three of us. So bringing that insight into, you know how to create party game that strategy players love to play as well. Day to day I also handle a lot of our just kind of external communications and copywriting and all that fun jazz as well.

Introductory Guy 1:27
It’s time for an adventure in the worlds of user experience and game design. On season three of the design thinking games podcast, join old school UX years and aspiring game designers Michael Scofield, Tim Broadwater, and an array of quirky characters from pixelated heroes to mischievious NPCs in search of the ultimate player experience, design thinking is a process that is applied to different types of games in this podcast. If you’re wondering whether your favorite games have already come up, you can listen through the backlog at design thinking games.com. Now rapid Frodo by fire that design thinking laser

Michael Schofield 2:12
Just like as humans and gamers, what is like kind of like the first, like, really special game gaming moment you you have in your memories. I worded that weird, but I think you get what I mean.

Josh Kemper 2:29
I know I have one right away, not necessarily in board games. But in video games. I was a very avid video gamer growing up, my brother and I had just gotten first PlayStation. And our first game ever was Final Fantasy seven on their life on Cloud fantasy fan. But we’re used to you know, Sega Genesis and things like that before, so we didn’t know what a memory card was. And we didn’t know my mother did not know what memory card was. We played the first like dungeon battle area in fallen fantasy seven probably 35 times. Because we just didn’t quite understand how we hadn’t gone to like an autosave point or like that the game could be that long. I’ve been obsessed ever since

Joe Boyle 3:19
Josh’s memory sparked sparked a memory for me. We similarly transition from Sega Genesis to PlayStation as a family. And our first game was Crash Bandicoot we got Crash Bandicoot one and then two, and then we got three. But you know that wasn’t as good as one and two. And then as an adult now that I own a switch. Like they rereleased it onto the switch and they have a Crash Bandicoot four, which is amazing. And so I’m getting this whole like nostalgia kick right now because I’m working my way through all of the games, you know, one, two and four on switch. I love it.

Robert Smith 3:54
I feel like for me, so I grew up for like some context. I grew up with three older sisters and I was always like the younger little brother. So I feel like I grew up playing a lot of like mouse trap guests who dream phone, you know what I’m saying? Like we played that I played that. But like for me, I think like fun gaming memories is truly like I grew up in the middle of like the country and my friends and I would just like make obstacle courses in our backyards or like in the woods and we would like run around and climb trees and like jump off of logs and collect things as if we were on like an episode of Survivor. Like it was just a lot of like creative thinking when you didn’t necessarily have a lot of you know, items or resources around JC you just used what you can nature and you would collect leaves and rocks and such.

Michael Schofield 4:39
I I deeply and dearly remembered dream phone. I would love like 30 seconds on why dream phone is perhaps the best game of that era.

Robert Smith 4:54
I think it was really great. I mean, I was a young closeted little boy and I got to play dream for own amongst my sisters under the facade that it was like, Oh, well, like, you know, I don’t know, like it was like a tagline game that maybe wasn’t necessarily built or marketed for me as a little boy. But like, it was a way for me to let my hair down and maybe experience and explore some things at an age that you never would have been able to otherwise. So thank you Dream Phone from the 80s

Tim Broadwater 5:20
mousetrap is really great, too. I love the mousetrap. I think you’re talking about the board game with all the plastic pieces. Okay.

Michael Schofield 5:29
It was like a Rube Goldberg thing, right? Because it was

Tim Broadwater 5:31
this weird game? How did the three of you meet? Or friends at work? Or how did this even start? You know,

Joe Boyle 5:39
I think I’m the center of this. So I’ll take this one on. So Robin, I met through like mutual friends at a house party one night, and I just kind of assimilated into that group over time. Rob had tried to create a couple of different games in his 10 years and like, tried a couple different things and finally found something that he’s really happy with, that he created for a Halloween party. And so we worked. So then he was like, Hey, you want to work on this with me. And we really launched into this and created it’s kind of a fun story. And Josh, who I’d known for a couple years, so I met his husband before and then became friends with him months later. I you know, he was one of our first play testers. And so the three of us like really just kind of came together to work on this project. And, you know, it was just like, happenstance that I happen to know both of them. And, you know, this all launched out of kind of Rob’s idea was brought together from there.

Tim Broadwater 6:44
So, the derivation is a Halloween party, or like a game for a Halloween party. Is that what you said?

Robert Smith 6:49
Yeah, sure. So I can, I can jump in and kind of add some color on this one. So basically, it was like my partner, Joe and I, we were getting ready to host like a kind of intimate Halloween party, it was like 14 of us and like, this small one bedroom apartment in Chicago that we had at the time. And like, I wanted to make this kind of like fun interactive experience. So it started out with like, 25 different like pieces of construction paper, just like taped to a wall. And it looked very, like Jeopardy, or like Wheel of Fortune, if you will. And so I wrote on the backs of these pieces of paper different like probing questions or kind of get to know you cards, where you would like, you know, share a different piece of your life with the group. And you know, at the end of it, everyone felt a little bit bonded afterwards. And it was just kind of like a really cool gaming experience. Like everyone thought it was quite fun. We treated it a bit like a game show where people were like chanting and like clapping their hands. And like, I was playing this host, and all of us were in Halloween costumes. I was dressed like a football player. But yeah, it was just a really fun experience. So then, like me, Joe, Joe and I, we had started working on this and writing a bunch of cards. And then after we had quite a few cards, like an Excel sheet, probably with like 150 prompts written, right, we started play testing this. And at this moment, this is actually like right when the pandemic hit. So the world had just shut down, like everybody was cooped up in their homes. And I feel like people were really craving connection at this point in time. And it was like, this game really bridged that gap and offered people a chance to like, you know, even if we’re even if we’re just talking on our computers, like we are right now is an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other on a level that I think we all were really desperately craving at the time. And out of that first play test, Josh was the literally the first play tester in this group of like, four friends.

Josh Kemper 8:31
Yeah, so I was part of the first play test of what I like to call the game that would eventually become it’s kind of a fun story. It was very different thing at that point in time. And so we have first play tests, we did kind of q&a with Rob and Joe. And the two of them asked me to come on as someone to kind of run q&a at future play tests. Obviously, since the roll to shut down at the time, I was a out of work server and after so all of my careers were no more. So yeah, I’m bored in my house just sitting here playing Animal Crossing, like everyone else. Let me let me hop on and do this and help out. And after about two play tests, without q&a, I kind of sat down with the two of them and was like, I have a lot of notes about what we can do with this. And that’s kind of what morphed into me coming in more full time rather than than just this kind of mediator in between the two and really, being able to put all three of our heads together have really morphed it into something special.

Robert Smith 9:36
If you think of the three of us as like different points in a triangle, we have like this beautiful points of connection and how we support each other and how we round each other out in different spaces in ways that like, honestly, like I’m not a math person, I’m not a mathematician, like I need Joe and I need Josh I need their creative minds in ways that I could never, you know, perform in those certain spaces. So I think it is like quite an credible that we found each other and that we found this project and we both all three of us just fell in love with it. And I think we’ve been able to really build something beautiful together. And I’m just like, insanely proud of us honestly.

Michael Schofield 10:11
What what was like the bridge between, you know, three people craving that sense of connection, perhaps opportunistically not having a whole lot of demands on their free time to becoming like pop house.

Tim Broadwater 10:32
Yeah, I’m curious about the name to like the pop house the name and incorporation. Like what’s happened since

Robert Smith 10:40
I think like for the name, what we liked about the words pop house is because originally, we kind of wanted it to just be pop house and we like the word pop being treated like a verb. It’s something that’s jumping at you. It’s something that’s very excitable, it has a lot of energy, it’s coming at you, right. And we love the word house in terms of like, it brings a sense of foundation and community and a place of shelter when you need it most. So it’s like this jumping, vibrant energy, but also like the security and I don’t know, that cared of community building. Like that’s kind of like the heart of what it is. And then the word collective just means that like, we are a team, we are a trio, and the collective grows and expands as needed in the sense of like, if we need to bring on freelancers to help us bring certain ideas to life, outside of just Josh, Joe and I. So I feel like in all paths collective just personifies this dynamic motley crew, a very creative, expressive voices. And we’re, you know, the experiences that we’re building that we’re excited to bring to the table for everyone to enjoy.

Josh Kemper 11:40
And we talked about this a lot. But it really is true is that like, we are very much focused on community building, both, you know, in the game and in our lives. Even you know, before the pandemic, we’re all kind of the extroverted friends and our friends groups are bringing people together. And really just, our focus has always been how do you take people from different backgrounds, bring them together and bond them together? That’s kind of our lens of how we look at everything.

Tim Broadwater 12:14
There’s a, I remember when I geeking out to Mike at PAX unplugged, I’m like, there’s these people on Tik Tok they have this was amazing Tiktok ever. game and I wanted to get the game so it was kind of fortuitous. I’m glad we met. And I think there’s even in your tiktoks you have like, some of your early wins, which kind of talk about the story of you know, the game and everything. And at what point is this a full time gig for all of you? Or is this a part time gig for all of you? Or what is it like now? I guess

Robert Smith 12:48
it certainly feels like a full time job but it’s not any of our we are all double time it and just letting Jesus take the wheel. Okay, I mean, like, this is yeah, this is just like a passion project that snowballed into a big bad animal and we’re just holding on and kind of bring it to life

Tim Broadwater 14:14
what I mean kind of what I feel is unique about the game and I’ll just give them By framing on it. Party games get this horrible rap in my opinion. And but some party games are great, and one of my favorite ones is codenames codewords, it’s a decent one. bank heist is another one we’ve talked about on the show before as well, for seem to be more deception based words, but, you know, Cards Against Humanity is blown up. And I think people understand like, this is a serious genre. But what I like about it’s kind of a fun story. Is there are these kind of woowoo uncomfortable questions or things that you might want to tell or just things you never knew about the people that you’re playing with? And so can you? Is that from the Halloween? Because you knew the people and you were comfortable with asking those types of questions, and it’s kind of morphed in there. I’m just curious about that. If you can speak to it.

Michael Schofield 15:55
Maybe we can also dovetail into like the pitch, like, tell us about kind of a fun, kind of a funny story.

Tim Broadwater 16:01
better places to explain the game.

Robert Smith 16:04
Yeah, sure. I mean, honestly, when the game started out for this Halloween party, I’m not gonna beat around the bush, it was filthy. It was like out. Down and dirty. And let me just say, like, we were opening up and like sharing, okay, and I think that’s like, where the game started, right? It was like, there were some crass questions. There were some for real, like, let’s get down and know each other questions. And so I think what we started to do, like, with any work of art, like a sculpture, you got to start chipping away at this thing, and you got to form it, and you gotta like, keep going until you like land on your final piece. I do think there are fun probing questions, we like to say we have a variety of like, questions that are deep and introspective and questions that deal with your adolescence or nostalgia or your future goals and aspirations. So there’s a whole gambit of, you know, embarrassing, funny, deep honest, you know, etc. And we like to say that it’s really a choose your own adventure, where you can lean in and lean out of that as much as you’d like. There’s always a skip metric within the game. So if you do get a card that you’re not loving, you’re never forced to be in the hot seat, you can just completely move on, if it’s not the vibe. And there’s also safety barriers built into the game, such as the note card, where if a topic of conversation ever comes up, that you’re just truly not vibing with, you know, you can go ahead and hold that up and just cease conversation, it’s a light reset on the round, it’s not to be used competitively or strategically, just a way to ensure that everyone’s enjoying themselves. But yeah, with that, I mean, boys, what else do you have to say about some of the like cards and where it is? And we’re brought in? I suppose.

Tim Broadwater 17:36
So the actions are performative, right? They want you to do something like that. I don’t know the thing. What is the acronym ASMR? When you’re doing? The other thing is like explaining a story, you know? So how did you come up with the various different things maybe as well?

Robert Smith 17:54
Sure, I guess, like, so it started out. And the route of the game was specifically just centered around what are called Story cards. And that’s where you draw a prompt from the deck, and then you answer it with a story from your life such as, like, who is your arch nemesis growing up? What’s your favorite memory about another player here, so you can just really start sharing different experiences from your youth, or, you know, from those around the table that you’re playing this game with? When the game started, and it was just heavily focused on that aspect, we were kind of craving some additional layers to it. So we started adding in what we like to call these kind of like lightning round or wildcards, which is left or right point a finger and everybody answers. And we feel like what these add to the game is this kind of like roulette element where points are flying around the table, it’s kind of a way to allow the underdog to suddenly kind of come back from you know, the, you know, when they were trailing in points, now, they can maybe be like competing and be second place or third place. So it’s kind of just an opportunity to ensure that, you know, there’s some quick rounds that take place within 30 seconds or less 60 seconds or less. And then you can move on and have more kind of impactful moments where somebody kind of takes a piece of armor off, if you will, and there’s a deeper moment from their life because that experience right there is inherently going to have a little bit more weight to it than you and your friends just chuckling about who’s going to plan the better group vacation or like plan the next holiday and like the different like, you know, details and aspects that come along with it. There’s a lot of creative improv and exploration that comes in those cards. But where the relationship building really comes into play, I believe is in the story cards where people are just actively sharing experiences about their lives.

Michael Schofield 19:32
I want to like maybe kind of like lean in a little bit more on like the deliberateness of this like game design because I think even in one of your your guys’s like videos, you know, it shows like oh, here’s Cards Against Humanity and there’s like a little finger wag and we just mentioned Cards Against here. Two cards against humanity is barely a game

Tim Broadwater 19:59
It’s just facilitator I feel like it gets people. Yeah,

Michael Schofield 20:03
lets people like in serves this purpose, which is that it lets you be super politically incorrect like among potentially strangers, right? It helps. It serves a functional social need. That’s really cool. And what I like about the deliberateness about like, your design choices there you kind of went through is like, hey, there are, there are ways out there are cards that control pacing. So you can probably lean in and lean out. This is kind of like some great phrasing that I I’m going to assume is deliberate. Also.

Joe Boyle 20:38
You sound exactly like my therapist.

Michael Schofield 20:43
And then there’s, of course, like, Yeah, I mean, like, there’s a real game. And there’s real points. And you guys have tried to solve the problem of lagging behind points, there’s, there’s all of these problems or problems, obstacles, and creating like a really good game, getting the pacing, right, creating moments of different paces different pacings, I would love to talk about how you how I assume you guys had all of these ethics involved with how you communicate your party, your party planning and stuff like that, like creating safe spaces for your buddies, knowing that your buddies can be really awful with one another to in a safe space, and then how you translate that into mechanics which seem like, like, polished.

Joe Boyle 21:34
Yeah. So that’s actually when I give Josh a lot of the credit there, because it’s where I feel a lot of these safety mechanics came in were, from his idea, his first play tested it, a lot of them were at least mildly introverted. And I think a little turned off to the first version of this process when Rob and I started playtesting it out there. And, you know, a lot of the safety metrics that, as you said, allow people to lean in and lean out came in large part, you know, from him a little bit from groupthink, and like, kind of calling out and identifying the problem and then saying, like, how do we solve this. And that’s another thing I think the three of us really do well, is that we’re all really good problem solvers. And so I think, like when we’re able to put our heads together, we conquer a lot of problems. And I think that Josh, inherently has a lot of objectivity in certain situations. And he really brings that into the fold here, and is willing to kind of lay it on the line for us and say, like, I think this is a problem, we need to address it. And then, you know, either he has a solution, or we put our minds together and come up with one.

Josh Kemper 22:43
You know, as Joe was saying that, and thank you for that compliment, my friend. I’m realizing that pretty much every single safeguard that I put in this game was to figure out how I could get my partner to want to play it.

Tim Broadwater 23:01

Josh Kemper 23:01
and he is introverted, and has a very short attention span. You know, creating these safeguards of, we’ve talked about this a lot being able to lean in when you want to leaning out when you aren’t necessarily feeling it, and how do you keep the pacing going, so that it’s not just like, alright, well, it’s this person’s turn to tell a story. Okay, it’s this person’s turn, and then being able to throw in a like, oh, great, we’re all doing something, we’re all engaged. But the second that you think that you’re not going to be engaged, kind of helps you stay into it. And, you know, when we when we set out to make this something that was kind of in our head a lot was this idea of you’re at a party, and you kind of have these different groups of people in different areas. So you have you know, people sitting around a table Playing Cards Against Humanity playing a moniker is doing something like that. And then you have people in the kitchen like gossiping, or having a deep conversation, and they’re just completely removed from each other. And how do you bring those two groups together so that everybody’s getting what they want? And so that was a very big lens for us going through this as just like, how do you appease the people who want to have a deep conversation and not necessarily play a game, and the people who just want to play a game but don’t want to have a deep conversation? And like, let them let them both concede a little bit, but mostly get what they want. And I think that’s where a lot of the safeguards and the Choose Your Own Adventure and all that comes in and again, in this lens of like wanting to build community, we don’t want to ever have a moment and we definitely have that during play testing where we don’t want to have a moment where someone is so shocked or uncomfortable by something that’s going on in the game that they check out.

Tim Broadwater 24:50
Are you I don’t want you to go into if you’re not but it can use what are you comfortable speaking to about that incident you’re talking about and playtesting or someone not being comfortable with it or not wanting…

Josh Kemper 25:01
Yeah, so I this is we had a card back in the day, which was, I want to say along the lines of like, who would kill their pet for a million dollars. And it was a point

Tim Broadwater 25:19
When you compare to stuff that’s on Cards Against Humanity, that’s nothing.

Josh Kemper 25:24
It’s not but you know, it’s, you know, when you have these cards, and we definitely have cards in the deck that do push buttons and kind of, you know, push the limit of maybe what people are willing to talk about. But when you have something that is a point a finger card, or is, you know, giving a superlative to someone which is like, so negative. Personally, you know, it’s different than the Cards Against Humanity, where you’re just like playing a card, it doesn’t represent you, but pointing to your friend and saying, you’re the person who I think is the cruelest who would put down their patent for money, that that isn’t what we’re going for. And so we’re on the surface in front in light, but kind of the back end of that is like, you’re really ostracizing someone. And so how do you how do you create a superlative for someone that’s light and fun, and may come to the same solution, but doesn’t have some sort of like, cruelty or hard negativity attached to it? Because that’s not what we’re going for.

Michael Schofield 26:25
to an earlier point. And Robert, I think that you said was like the the goal is connection, right? So it’s not just like party haha, fun. But there are moments to really like, connect with folks. But you know, but But yeah, and so you don’t want to like create, you don’t want to create, like disassociation, because everything’s so dark all the time.

Robert Smith 26:48
Yeah, I think when we were like writing this, and really developing like this perfect mix of like, the funny meeting, the deep meeting, you know, everything in between, is I think like the perfect word that comes to mind when I think of that as balance, like, we just needed to find what the right balance and mix evolve this was. And I think it’s also important to say like in this process, we wanted to figure out like with reading a lot of these prompts, there’s a fine line of being like vanilla and boring or being like, cringe worthy and way too far. And we wanted to straddle that in the best way possible. And I think we found that in a lot of cards that, you know, bring a lot of these funny wild scenarios to the table, but it’s done in a way that’s light and playful, and it doesn’t come at you, with your friends all waving their fingers at you and like distaste. So I think what this really like shook out to be is it creates a space where you’re in on the joke, you’re never the butt of the joke. And that’s really what we tried to find was everybody’s laughing, everybody’s enjoying themselves. There are times where you’re kind of like the result of why everyone’s laughing. But it’s not done in a way that’s malicious, or a way that you feel other that you’re kind of like done with the game. Because even in writing this, we wanted to make sure that there was nothing that was ever too polarizing. And we thought through this in the sense of like socioeconomic standing where you grew up, what your financial background was, what your demographic is, kind of different life experiences. I think a great example of that is while we were play testing was we had a card that said something along the lines of like, describe your favorite family. Excuse me describe your favorite family vacation. Why was it your favorite? At the end of the play test? One of our play testers told us that they grew up and they didn’t have a lot of money and they didn’t their family never traveled right. So how do you make this card suddenly be flexible for somebody that might not have had a similar growing up experience as you did? And this could you know, think of it from a global perspective, somebody playing this game from a different country, they’re gonna have a vastly different experience than you. So I think what we tried to really do is focus in on the human connection and the human aspect and relation of all of these cards where anybody can really kind of catch on to them and feel that they relate to it to some extent.

Josh Kemper 28:59
Yeah, I’m gonna sit and say as I’m blanking in the moment did we change it to trip or was that the one we change the gathering?

Joe Boyle 29:06
Gathering family gathering

Robert Smith 29:09
itself to like a Christmas morning or family gathering

Josh Kemper 29:12
Yeah, so we you know, we took this idea of vacation and you know, family coming together and doing something but what’s the more broader version of that so it got the car got changed to what was your favorite family gathering growing up because that way it then opens it up to, you know, holidays or a cookout or vacation if that’s what it is. Or maybe it’s just like a trip that you all took to Dairy Queen one time that really sticks out in your mind as being special. So you know, opening it up to, like Rob said as many experiences as you can with every single card.

Tim Broadwater 29:50
We talk a lot about in tabletop board gaming specific or tabletop card gaming or niche tabletop gaming. The instructional design mine, and how it is horrid. And there are games that are dated, that are phenomenal to play, but the rules are just antiquated, are never updated. And the number one thing that a lot of people say online and in gaming communities is like I love game designing, it’s a process, but it’s like, I hate creating the freakin the rules, you know. And then I know a lot of there’s even a kind of a side booming industry, which is, there are a lot of YouTube channels that will teach people how to play a game in five minutes. And they will, and they their whole channels that you know. And what I would like to say, is I would like to compliment not, it’s kind of a fun story, not just on your print designs, because it’s simple, just the fold easy, you know, but then also you make your own video that you put right on your website that teaches people had a play, and I know that touches, maybe marketing a little bit, but I’m just anything you can tell us about your experience with the instructional design part or teaching people how to play it.

Josh Kemper 31:07
Yeah, I think, you know, I’m probably the odd man out that I love the rules. Every game, and the friend who reads the rules ahead of time, and then teaches it to everyone when we try to sit down. Okay. Yeah, that’s that’s me. You know, I have, I have friends who we did the entirety of gloom Haven, which took maybe three years total to get through all of it. Yeah, it took us a long time. But four of us power through it, we did all but you know, I’m the person who sat there and read the 50 page rule book front to back went online and did the quizzes to make sure I understood the rules correctly, so then I could teach it to other people. So actually sitting down to write offs for this was not a challenge.

Tim Broadwater 31:54
A lot of people find it very difficult. And then when they have a lot of metrics that a lot of tabletop gamers use, it’s like, Hey, we’re gonna do the blind play testing, when we can send it and shut up and not say anything, and someone else can play it and get it successfully. And if they encounter a problem, they can find the answer in the rules. I just did. What was your What was your experience? Like with that? Was there drafts or was just pretty easy, or?

Josh Kemper 32:19
Yeah, they’re definitely draft and it went through changes, we pretty much with all of our playtesting. As soon as we have rules fully written down, we kind of wish you know, we started playtesting in March, April 2020. And I would say probably by July 2020, we were kind of sitting back, and just kind of handing the rules to them, letting them read through it in the moment, kind of figure it out themselves. And we would be there to kind of step in, if need be, but we allowed them to kind of troubleshoot themselves. And then we could look back and go, Well, where did they catch out? What did they not quite understand what could be clearer. And kind of just, you know, heading into that. We actually got a lot of our first year we were doing first exposure play tests at GenCon, when they were doing it all digital 2020. And we got a lot of really, really great feedback from that. The note card came out of that experience there. Just as a, you know, the x card and tabletop gaming, it’s pretty much just based off of that. And we got that from our play testers at Gen Con, who were like, Hey, this is a really great thing that exists in this. Have you thought about it? And we went? Yeah, let’s do it.

Tim Broadwater 33:34
Yeah, I’m very interested to see what comes out of pop house. And I think I’m excited to see more and I think our listeners will too. And so how do people get and connect? To get connected to you find out more follow join your community or how do they get the game, anything you want to share?

Josh Kemper 33:57
Of course so we are at this moment available nationwide in the US at Target. So you can head to your local Target, pick up the game. Send there nice pretty on the shelf with all those other adult party games. And we are planning and a great celebration for the fact that we are now there at Gen Con this year. Anyone who is attending, we are doing a live playthrough with six of your favorite gaming influencers and the event is going to be hosted by Mo Heart from RuPaul drag race and Amazon music’s the walk in getting some nice little LGBTQIA+ love at GenCon this year. It’s going to be amazing time. If you’re unable to attend, it’s going to be streaming on GenCons Twitch channel. So you’ll be within live and play along with everybody.

Joe Boyle 34:50
We went I was just gonna I was just gonna comment really quick and say Mike almost spit out a string when you said Mo Heart, which was my favorite part of this entire record.

Tim Broadwater 35:01
Michael loves RuPaul Drag Race! I only watch drag the old stars so I don’t watch the normal season so

Michael Schofield 35:08
I watched the All Stars to you know I love our queen of queens Jinx Monsoon but like Monique Heart well now it’s Mo Heart right like it’s just so like man she’s she’s I don’t know how I don’t know how to say

Robert Smith 35:25
He’s speechless!

Michael Schofield 35:25
… vbery sassy very crass like I I I’m I’m a fat and so I think that’s kind of amazing such a flex that you all aren’t and ended up in Target. Target has kind of established your really kind of like nice like game collection you can find

Tim Broadwater 35:43
their Lego collection and their board game collection is amazing.

Michael Schofield 35:48
Yeah, man. So like congrats, that’s huge.

Robert Smith 35:52
What our secret sauce to all of this, if I may, because it’s truly been like, yes, we view this. You know, it’s a very fun game. It’s an amazing experience in a box. And that is what the game is. That’s what it’s kind of a story is. But I feel like what we bring to this is such an entrepreneurial spirit where we are so driven to see the success of pop house collective as a business and as a game publishing company. It’s really us putting our lives on the line, kind of our integrity and our business prowess to see how can we grow this? And how can we scale it? And how can we do it? In this current state of the world, right? People are hyper obsessed with social media, people are less connected than they have ever been face to face and more digitally than ever, how do you break through that noise and really bring something to these people to enjoy an experience. So it’s kind of a fun story. It’s a really great game that gets everyone around the table to open up and start sharing different experiences about their lives. We’d like to say it’s a strategic storytelling game that lays all your cards on the table. And ultimately, it’s just a really great way to get to know the folks that you’re playing with on a deeper level. And I think it kind of brings a different genetic GWA if you will, to the party game category that I don’t think other games have been able to touch

Michael Schofield 40:00
We would like to finish the episode with a game that we call D12. All this is is just a bunch of quick questions or we’re gonna roll some dice just to figure it out. There are three of you answer off the cuff like just give it 30 seconds if you want to think very deeply about it by all means. What game should everyone play at least once?

Robert Smith 40:15
Oh, fun. Um Okay, honestly, I think this is like this is true to like the type of games that I enjoy. Like I think everybody should try if you’ve never played it, you should try and play the game spot it it is like so simple but it’s like a child like if you grew up and you loved playing like I spy or Where’s Waldo. This game is like a fever dream for you. It’s just like, really hyper competitive and moves very fast. You and your friends are just moving quickly trying to like identify little symbols on cards. And I think it’s one of those guys Amistad does a really great job at like, raising your blood pressure. A really fun way and making you really like hyper competitive and this like 62nd or less finite piece of time. And I think that is like gold. Like if you can get somebody to experience and feel that emotionally so quickly, like you’re onto something and I think that game as simple as it is, you know, children can play it. It’s not overly complex. I played it at the holidays with family and I think I’ve had just so much fun with it. We’ve done like elimination rounds to like, raise the stakes. It’s very modifiable. I think that’s just a damn good very simple game.

Michael Schofield 40:37
Awesome. What a plug.

Joe, Paragon, or Renegade? Do you usually play the good guy? Or do you play the bad guy?

Joe Boyle 40:53
Well, I’m gonna have to admit my ignorance on this one and I can pass that that game that reference offline to Josh.

Josh Kemper 41:02
I am always the good guy to the altruistic of in my fantasy world. Everyone is happy all the time. And that’s gotten everything they’ve ever wanted in their entire lives. So I will, at the detriment of myself, do everything in my power to help every single person

Joe Boyle 41:24
until Josh is the villain in a game and then you’ve never seen anybody backstab you so quickly… with very strategic bad advice.

Josh Kemper 41:36
We used to play a lot of betrayal on house on the hill. Which to the end of the day to the answer that what game should everyone play? That’s my answer for that. But yeah, I’m a ruthless traitor.

Joe Boyle 41:50
Oh very ruthless. I beat Josh exactly once in that game and it was the ultimate high of my life.

Michael Schofield 41:57
That game is pretty hard to win. It’s that the best is like how long can you survive until like the weird like Shark eats you or whatever the variation is

Tim Broadwater 42:11
Zombie, witch, mummy, or whatever

Michael Schofield 42:20
Joe is your guilty pleasure.

Joe Boyle 42:25
Oh… don’t love the title. But I think it’s Secret Hitler. We play it a lot in our friend group. And it it really is fun in the fact that it’s like playful deception. And you’re, you’re all trying to play like you’re the good guy. Like you’re the best in your for everyone. And you’re so happy when a liberal policy gets passed. But that game is great when you’re a fascist and like you are trying to overthrow the other party. And like you’re deceiving your partners I’ve witnessed on the brink of many divorces happening over this game where people are pleading with their partners being like yeah, I’m a liberal trust me like just vote for me it’s okay and then they turn out to be Hitler. I love it so much, because I just love watching it and then also I’m pretty good at setting up friends to take the fall especially my more innocent friends you know when I play like a fascist card and I’m like well you gave me no choice. This is all your fault. And then everybody thinks they’re a fascist. So that that is that’s the answer.

Tim Broadwater 43:32
There’s something archetypical there about the bookkeeper being

Michael Schofield 43:38
the books the books are fascist

Joe Boyle 43:43
right I don’t know what to tell you this is obviously a setup

Michael Schofield 43:54
ROBERT This one’s for you. Fail your last death save which Dungeons and Dragons you’re going out, there’s no coming back. What are your final words?

Robert Smith 44:10
How how explicit can this be

Tim Broadwater 44:15
you can use profanity on our class it’s fine

Robert Smith 44:18
no I don’t know if I want to lead with that but I have a really great one oh words the take a good luck

Tim Broadwater 44:32
love it.

Josh Kemper 44:33
This is the last you’re ever going to see of these!

Michael Schofield 44:44
Josh mind for maps and miniatures.

Josh Kemper 44:52
Whoo. I’m gonna go maps and miniatures. I like you know I I appreciate the theater of the mind, but I think I’m a visual guy as someone who is currently obsessed with all things haven of gloom, Haven, prostate and all that jazz. Not to miniatures all the way baby

Michael Schofield 45:20
Joe, what is your favorite card game?

Joe Boyle 45:27
Hmm. Um, you know, recently, my partner’s from Michigan and this seems to be a regional game there. It’s probably more wider, wider than that. But I think right now my favorite card game because of the simplicity is skip Bo. It’s like, it’s so it’s so simple. You’re just counting your cards to 12 and you know, there’s kind of a board that’s going along with it. But I we have a lot of fun playing the game.

Michael Schofield 46:03
Robert and I were both thinking because he said Michigan we’re like Euchre

Joe Boyle 46:09
I do love Euchre but that’s not like I don’t know there’s more to it like it’s not so simple even though the dynamics of the game are simple. There’s more to it. They’re

Michael Schofield 46:20
totally… right, thanks lost my order. What is your genre? Alternated history fantasy cyber punk goth horror?

Robert Smith 46:42
Oh, when it comes to drag I love horror drag like I’m a big fan of like Dracula Gala. Yes. Yeah, I’m a fan of that like give me like Sigourney Beaver, give me Saint, give me like all those folks. I love that. Like Coco Kane. Dali, because I think yeah, Dolly got to see them live last year. That was really wow. Yeah, they came to Chicago the really brothers dragging their tour another plug Dragula.

Michael Schofield 47:11
Bolet Brothers love It’s Kind of a Fun Story.

Tim Broadwater 47:14
So what I’m hearing is your genre is horror, drag drag horror?

Robert Smith 47:19
Absolutely well, okay. Yeah, I mean, I didn’t drag like three or Oh, God was before the pandemic. I did it for this like charity, kickball lip sync competition. And my inspiration was the girl at the end of Greece when she’s finally like the biker bitch. And she’s wearing like, the black leather and she’s like really confident she’s no longer like the good girl, right? So I was like, full black leather I bought on Etsy this like, but dazzled silver eyepatch that a woman in Germany made. So I was on a stage like twirling and dancing with one eye like visible but like, it was very punk rock. It was very horror. And I feel like that is my genre.

Joe Boyle 48:00
Having seen this performance live, there was also like, flags involved at one point and it became like breaker dance with little Ed. Oh, that’s what it was. Yeah, I spent like where she’s like dancing and trolling around. Like I was getting little Eddy vibes from that from Greek artists, which love the movie. Rob is just as crazy. So it works.

Michael Schofield 48:21
Oh my god, I love it. All right, Josh. I think this one is yours. All right. favorite game, villain, and favorite game hero?

I always feel goos when Josh is like, good question.

Josh Kemper 48:45
I know I like that because it’s very validating right. Now. This is, this may be a little niche. But it’s probably popular enough at this point. I moved I play Final Fantasy 14 every single week with a group of friends. I have a writing group. And the not most recent expansion, but the last one had Emmett Selke who anyone who is listening is familiar as the most like perfect trouble villain was good intention became a villain and then has an arc to becoming a hero again, and it’s just it’s beautiful, y’all. It’s he’s just perfect in every way. And probably anyone who plays that game will agree with me.

Tim Broadwater 49:35
That’s it’s a good answer for both questions.

Josh Kemper 49:37
Yeah, yeah. He can be both he’s both!

Michael Schofield 49:45
Joe I think this one is for you treat some enemies. What is the most overrated game?

Joe Boyle 49:54
I don’t know. I love all the games I play let’s let’s think about this. Although I have limited and I’m going to create enemies on this call right now, just based on previous conversation, I can feel it. I’m going to receive hate mail from you all. I think the most overrated game for me is betrayal at the House on Haunted Hill, because every time I’m the spook or whatever, I don’t know what to do. The directions aren’t clear enough for me, which is like I just can’t I can’t figure it out. I figured it out one time. And we played for years every like Josh, I lived in the same building. They like people just piling on my apartment. We play games, and this game would always get product I could never figure it out. Except for once.

Josh Kemper 50:41
It was a game together too. So we have played this a lot

Michael Schofield 50:48
I love the idea that it’s like hard to figure out even though they give like the the spook the entire instruction booklet.

Joe Boyle 50:57
I am the probably the smartest person you will ever meet.

Josh Kemper 51:02
So they’re so reliant on me explaining the rules to them. So when I’m not explaining the roles because they’re not in my team anymore, it just goes downhill.

Michael Schofield 51:11
Hilarious. Robert, most underrated game?

Robert Smith 51:22
Oh, let’s see most underrated, huh? I’m gonna say it. I’m just gonna say it. I don’t know if anyone’s gonna like it. But I’m just gonna say I think the most underrated game honestly is the reality television show Big Brother. I think it is the epitome of like social strategy with physical competition with like, deduction and you can be like sleuthy If I have one dream in life, I would love nothing more than to be on Big Brother someday because I think that show would be such a wild ride. And I would love to just like, try hand at trying to like, you know, shake your way all the way through to the end and it’s just like, you’re telling somebody one thing while you’re telling somebody out there and you’re building trust, it’s just like a really incredible like three month experience that I think yes, I feel like you probably wanted like a gaming answer but I truly feel like

Tim Broadwater 52:19
that is a game we discussed LARPing and we discussed like, there are a single role playing game journaling games we thought it would geocaching like people armored combat League, I mean so I think reality television competition gaming is definitely a genre so

Michael Schofield 52:37
and I feel like I would like when like love island like I feel like there’s a whole like strategy there like other than like short of just being like an Adonis right like but like if I could do past that part. Like I love the idea of like winning this stuff.

Robert Smith 52:55
I feel it I yeah, I think it would just be a very wild ride and I could see it being a lot of fun and I just really love games and I think that would be like the ultimate test of a game is like how are you like physically able to do this trapped in a house with like 14 people for three months? That’d be wild because we’re

Michael Schofield 53:13
like like a whole a whole new like card game would emerge out of it

Josh, what is your D&D alignment?

I’m gonna go out with my husband from the couch… lawful good. I think I think I put myself more lawful neutral No it’s hard it’s hard yeah, I’m gonna put myself in lawful neutral no neutral good not lawful good neutral good because yeah, neutral good. I am good for goodness sake. And and believe in doing what needs to be done that’s right for the sake of the fact that is the right thing. Whether or not it’s necessarily the lawful thing to do.

we had a guest this season who made a case for evil and it’s like hey, you know most people are evil and we should just be okay with that more games for evil people you know. Last and not least, Joe, I think this is for you. The most usable game, the game with the best player experience?

Joe Boyle 54:59
There is is a some pretty well known game out there called monikers. And every time I play that I do have so much fun like it’s just an hour of people making a fool of themselves while they’re playing this game and drawing different cards and like you’re just laughing and having good time like that, to me is such a good user experience like it’s so positive and like I always feel better about the people I’m playing with after I play around if that

Tim Broadwater 55:29
Solid answer nice!

Josh Kemper 55:29
And shout out to CMYK games who are also local Chicago boys.

Tim Broadwater 55:36
Oh nice!

Introductory Guy 1:00:50
Thank you for listening and connecting with design thinking games on tick tock twitch and Twitter. You can also check out design thinking games.com To request topics, ask questions or see what else is going on. Until next time, game on. Any final thoughts for our listeners rapid proto bot

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!